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Black Sea BassBlack Sea Bass (Centropristis striata)

Black Sea Bass

Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart I

The black sea bass fishery in the U.S. operates from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Black sea bass migrate seasonally and spawn off of New England in the late summer.  The black sea bass fishery uses predominantly black sea bass pots, otter trawls, and hook and line.  Black sea bass is an important recreational and commercial species along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.  The market for black sea bass is for human consumption and is primarily sold fresh or frozen.

 

2014 Black Sea Bass Federal Register Actions

08/22/2014
Final Rule; Correction; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
08/21/2014
Notice; Request for Comments; Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines
08/14/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Commercial Fishing Vessel Cost and Earnings Data Collection Survey in the Northeast Region
08/08/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Fishermen's Contingency Fund
07/16/2014
Proposed Rule; Extension Of Comment Period; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Special Management Zones for Five Delaware Artificial Reefs
07/07/2014
Final Rule; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2014
06/27/2014
Final rule; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations: Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
06/19/2014
Proposed rule; request for comments; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Special Management Zones for Five Delaware Artificial Reefs
05/29/2014
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Fisheries Of The Northeastern United States; Gear Stowage Requirements
05/22/2014
Final Rule; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2014 Summer Flounder Specifications; 2015 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications
05/09/2014
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2014
05/05/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Vessel Identification Collection
05/05/2014
Notice, Process For Making GIS Files Available; Opportunity To Comment; Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office's Geographic Information Systems Program; Availability of Files
04/24/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Dealer Purchase Reports
04/15/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Observer Providers Requirements
03/28/2014
Proposed specifications; request for comments; 2014 Summer Flounder Specifications; 2015 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications; 2014 Research Set-Aside Projects

 


 Click Below for Past Federal Register Actions & Public Comments:

20132012201120102009200820072006200520042003200220012000

What are other common names for black sea bass fishery?  Black will, chub, pinbass, old humpback, rock bass, black bass, tallywag

What time of year are black sea bass most commonly found?  The commercial fishery occurs in two distinct seasons.  There is a spring through fall inshore fishery and a winter offshore fishery.  Juveniles leave estuaries when the temperature falls below 14°C.  Black sea bass travel as far south as Virginia by late winter, and return to the northern inshore areas by May.

What is the geographic extent of black sea bass?  The northern stock is distributed primarily between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras.  Black sea bass are found in association with structured habitats.  They migrate offshore and south in the fall, returning north and inshore to coastal areas and bays in spring.  Five statistical areas (615, 616, 621, 622, and 626) individually accounted for greater than 5% of the black sea bass catch in 2009, collectively accounting for 64% of the catch.  Eight statistical areas (537, 538, 539, 611, 612, 613, 616, and 621) individually accounted for greater than %5 of the trips that caught black sea bass in 2009.  Collectively, these eight areas accounted for 86% of the trips that caught black sea bass and 47% of the black sea bass catch.

At what depths are black sea bass found?  Black sea bass generally overwinter at depths from 240 ft to more than 600 ft, with fish inhabiting deeper waters in the New Jersey-New York region than in the mid-Atlantic to the south.  During the summer, adult black sea bass are most abundant at depths less than 120 ft.

Are other species caught when fishing for black sea bass?  Summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are mixed fisheries, where squid, Atlantic mackerel, silver hake, skate, and other species are also harvested.

What gear types are authorized and what gears are primarily used?  For the commercial fishery, trawl, longline, handline, pot, trap, gillnet, and dredge are all authorized gears.  For the recreational fishery, rod and reel, handline, pot, trap, and spear, are all considered authorized gears.  Otter trawls (40%) and trap/pot gear (45%) have accounted for the majority of the landings from 1990-2008.  In 2009, the majority of trips and catch were made by otter and beam trawls (51.3% of trips, 51.7% of catch), followed by trap/pot (28.4% of trips, 42.1% of catch), handline “other” (15.2% of trips, 5.5% of catch), and gillnets (4.7% of trips, 0.6% of catch).  Inshore fisheries are primarily prosecuted with fish pots and handlines.

How is the fishery managed?  Black sea bass is managed using size, season, and bag limit for the recreational fishery and an annual coastwide quota, size limit, and gear restrictions for the commercial fishery.

Who manages this fishery?  Black sea bass is jointly managed in state and Federal waters by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries in conjunction with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 

What is the fishing year for this fishery?  January 1 – December 31

What are the different management areas for the black sea bass fishery?  Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (35° 15.3’ N latitude)

1996 – Black Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is incorporated into the Summer Flounder FMP (Amendment 9, Federal Register (FR) Notice); established black sea bass management measures including commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits, size limits, gear restrictions, permits, and reporting requirements 

1997Amendment 10 (FR Notice) modified commercial minimum mesh requirements, continues commercial vessel moratorium, and prohibits transfer of fish at sea 

1998Amendment 11 (FR Notice) modified certain provisions related to vessel replacement and upgrading, permit history transfer, splitting, and permit renewal regulations 

2001Framework 1 (FR Notice) established quota set-aside for research 

2003 – Amendment 13 (Volume 1, Volume 2, FR Notice) revises the black sea bass commercial quota system 

2004Framework 5 (FR Notice) established multi-year specification setting of quota 

2007Framework 7 (FR Notice) builds flexibility into the process to define and update status determination criteria for species

2007Amendment 16 (FR Notice) standardized bycatch reporting methodology

2009 – Mid-Atlantic black sea bass is considered rebuilt

2011Amendment 15 (FR Notice) established annual catch limits and accountability measures

2014Amendment 19 (FR Notice) changed recreational accountability measures

What are the primary markets for the black sea bass fishery?  Human consumption

What are the recent landings and value of the fishery? 

Landings:  2.682 million lb (2012)

Ex-vessel landing value:  $7.124 million (2012)

Estimated average ex-vessel price per pound:  $2.66 (2012)

What are the top black sea bass landing ports?  Ocean City, MD, Point Judith, RI, and Point Pleasant, NJ

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Black Sea Bass Information – click here

StockBlack Sea Bass
Overfishing?No
Overfishing DefinitionOverfishing occurs when F > FMSY
Overfished?No
Overfished DefinitionThe stock is overfished when B < ½ BMSY Proxy
Rebuilding ProgramNo, declared rebuilt in 2009
F/FMSY0.42
Fishing Mortality Rate0.21 (2011)
B/BMSY or B/BMSY Proxy27.6 million lb
Biomass2.80 million lb (2011)

Other Stock Status Information:  Not Applicable 

Most Recent Environmental Impact Statement:  Amendment 13; 2003 (Volume 1, Volume 2)

Most Recent Biological Opinion:  2013

Most Recent Stock Assessment:  2010

Next Stock Assessment:  Not yet scheduled

Quota Monitoring – click here

2014 Annual Black Sea Bass Specifications (January 1-December 31)

StockBlack Sea Bass
Overfishing Limit (OFL)None accepted
Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)5.5 million lb
Annual Catch Limit (ACL)5.5 million lb
Annual Catch Target (ACT)5.5 million lb
Total Allowable Landings (TAL)Not Applicable
Optimal Yield (OY)The long term average amount of desired yield, not to exceed maximum sustainable yield.

Research Set-Aside (up to 3%):  140,000 lb

Final Commercial Quota:  2.17 million lb

Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL):  2.26 million lb

How often do the quotas change for this fishery?  Every year

What if specifications are not in place at the start of fishing year?  In 1997, Judge Robert Dumar ordered that specifications publish before the fishing year begins.

Are there inseason adjustments (changes mid-fishing year) in this fishery?  Yes, if the coastwide commercial black sea bass quota is fully harvested, then the commercial black sea bass fishery will be closed.

Accountability Measures:

Commercial – Landings in excess of the annual coastwide quota will be deducted from the quota allocation for the following year in the final rule that establishes the annual quota.

Recreational – The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch (landings and dead discards).  Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational ACL has been exceeded.  If available data indicate that the recreational sector ACL has been exceeded, the total catch exceeds the ABC, or the total catch exceeds the OFL, then a system of accountability measures will be used that are based on a combination of how high the overage is and what condition the stock is in.  In other words, the status of the stock determines what type of management response would be implemented, including adjustment of management measures, scaled payback of overage, or pound-for-pound overage payback.  These adjustments will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible, as a single year adjustment.

Other:  Not Applicable

Click Below for Past Quota Information:

2013

Permit Categories

Permit CategoryTypeDescriptionNumber of Issued Permits (2013)Number of Permits in Confirmation of Permit History*
Category 1Commercial (Moratorium)Vessel that fishes for, catches, possesses, transports, lands, sells, or trades black sea bass815100
Category 2RecreationalVessel that carries passengers for hire805Not Applicable

*A Confirmation of Permit History allows a vessel owner to retain permit eligibility in the event the vessel has been destroyed or sold but the owner retains the permit eligibility.  The permit in Confirmation of Permit History may then be placed on a vessel at a later date.

Control Date:  June 5, 2001

Other Permit Information:  Not Applicable

Commercial Operator Permit:  Operator cards are required for any operator of a charter/party boat or a commercial vessel (including carrier and processor vessels) issued a vessel permit from the Northeast Region and fishing for or in possession of fish.

Commercial Dealer/Processor Permit:  Black sea bass may be sold only to persons possessing a valid Federal black sea bass dealer permit. 

How to Obtain a Federal Fishing Permit:  Anyone with a valid vessel operator’s permit can obtain a Federal recreational black sea bass permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division.  

Commercial (moratorium) permits have been managed under a limited entry system since 1996; no new moratorium permits are being issued.

More information can be found here.

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

There is no possession limit for the commercial fishery (check state regulations).

Maine

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

North Carolina

Fish Size Limits:

Minimum Fish Size:  11 in total length – Note: Filament/tail extension is NOT included in total length measurement (check state regulations)

Maximum Fish Size:  None

Gear Requirements

Otter trawlers – Vessels with a black sea bass moratorium permit that land more than 500 lb (January 1-March 31) or 100 lb (April 1-December 31) of black sea bass per trip must fish with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 4.5 in diamond mesh applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the end of the net.  For codends with less than 75 meshes, the entire net must have a minimum mesh size of 4.5 in diamond mesh throughout.  Black sea bass must be stored so as to be readily available for inspection in a standard 100 lb tote.

Pots and traps – Black sea bass pots must have ghost panels (measuring 3 in by 6 in), degradable hinges, two escape vents in the parlor, and identification as follows:

  • Degradable Hinges made with
    • Untreated hemp, jute, or cotton string of 3/16 in diameter or smaller;  or
    • Magnesium alloy, pop-up devises or similar magnesium alloy fasteners; or
    • Ungalvanized or uncoated iron wire 0.094 in diameter or smaller.
  • Escape Vents
    • Rectangular vents measuring 1 3/8 in by 5 ¾ in; or
    • Circular vents measuring 2.5 in in diameter; or
    • Square vents with sides of 2 in, inside measure; or
    • Spaces of at least 1 3/8 in between two sets of wooden laths.
  • Identification
    • Marked with state registration number; and/or
    • Marked with U.S. Coast Guard documentation number.

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

Not Applicable

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The black sea bass fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Quota’ and ‘Limits/Sizes’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the black sea bass fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Exempted fisheries allow fishing vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain Northeast multispecies regulations, including days-at-sea, provided the bycatch of regulated species is minimal. To be approved and implemented, exemption programs must have demonstrated that incidental catch of NE multispecies is less than 5 percent of the total catch, by weight, and that the exemption will not jeopardize fishing mortality objectives.

How to Request Fishery Exemptions

An exempted fishery may be added, deleted, or modified pursuant to the procedure described below:

  1. Applicants must submit a written request to the Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298. The request should describe the area in which the fishery would operate, the period in which it would operate, the gear it would use, the approximate number of vessels likely to participate, and the species it would target, retain, and land.
  2. Those proposing that a fishery should be exempt should describe the fishery and present all information possible that helps determine that the fishery meets the bycatch standard. The Regional Administrator will investigate NMFS data sources, but proposals for exemptions should be complete and clear to facilitate the process. State agencies and universities, for example, may have additional data available and applicants may contact them for assistance.
  3. When a request for an exempted fishery is submitted, the request and any accompanying data are reviewed by the Regional Administrator to determine whether such a fishery would meet the exemption qualifying criteria. The Regional Administrator will also consult with the New England Fishery Management Council on any exemptions requested. This process may take several months to complete.

There are no exempted fisheries for the black sea bass fishery.

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

Open Season:  May 19 through September 21 and October 18 through December 31 (check state regulations)

Possession Limits:  15 fish (see chart below and check state regulations)

Maine

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

North Carolina

Fish Size Limits:              

Minimum Fish Size:  12.5 in total length, the total length does not included the filament/tail extension (see chart below and check state regulations)              

Maximum Fish Size:  None

2014 State Recreational Management Measures for Black Sea Bass

State of Landing

Minimum Fish Size (inches)

Possession Limit (number of fish)

Open Season

Massachusetts Private and For-hire

14

8

May 17 to September 15

Massachusetts For-hire with Letter of Authorization from MA DMF

14

8

May 17 to May 31

20

September 1 to September 30

Rhode Island

13

3

June 29 to August 31

7

September 1 to December 31

Connecticut Private and Shore and For-hire

13

3

June 21 to August 31

8

September 1 to December 31

Connecticut For-hire with Letter of Authorization from CT DEP

13

8

June 2 to December 31

 

 

New York

13

8

July 15 to December 31

New Jersey

12.5

3

July 1 to August 31

15

May 19 to June 30; September 1 to September 6; October 18 to December 31

Delaware

12.5

15

May 19 to September 18

15

October 18 to December 31

Maryland

12.5

15

May 19 to September 18

15

October 18 to December 31

Virginia

12.5

15

May 19 to September 18

15

October 18 to December 31

North Carolina

12.5

15

May 19 to September 18

15

October 18 to December 31

Gear Requirements

Not Applicable

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

Not Applicable

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The black sea bass fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Quota’ and ‘Limits/Sizes’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the black sea bass fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Not Applicable

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

Not Applicable

Commercial Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR):  VTRs must be submitted with record of all fishing activity for each month.  The reports must be submitted to NMFS or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  Reports can also be submitted electronically here.  If no fishing activity took place during a fishing month, then a VTR must be submitted stating that no fishing trips were taken. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  The black sea bass fishery does not have any IVR requirements.  However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements.  Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements:  The black sea bass fishery does not have any VMS requirements.

Observer Requirements:  The black sea bass fishery does not have any specific observer requirements, however all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.

Charter/Party and Recreational Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR):  If the owner of a party or charter boat is issued only a black sea bass charter/party permit, and is carrying passengers for hire, then they must complete a VTR for each trip on which they land black sea bass.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  The black sea bass fishery does not have any IVR requirements.  However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements.  Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.

Additionally, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a system of coordinated voluntary data collection programs designed to estimate recreational catch and effort.